Allow Backyard Chickens in ALL of Orange County

Allow Backyard Chickens in ALL of Orange County

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Will Clark started this petition to Jerry L. Demings - Orange County Mayor and

Since 2013, Orange County commissioners have discussed chicken programs five times — but never approved one. However, just this last year, the board was considering a proposed ordinance that would permit residents to keep up to four hens in a coop in the backyard.

But some critics of Orange County’s proposed urban-chicken program balked about the plan to let residents keep the egg-laying birds in their backyards — forcing a delay on a decision by county commissioners until at least August 2021.

Complaints of pestilence, pests, and noise pollution soured the proceedings, and left commissioners searching for answers.

These complaints, however, are nothing but common misconceptions about backyard chickens. These misconceptions, addressed here, render all of the complaints made by the naysayers for backyard chickens moot:

  1. Myth: They're noisy. Fact: Chickens will peep and cluck softly throughout the day, and are silent all night. If you don't have roosters, there won't be too much noise. A dog's bark is 90 decibels, whereas a hen's laying song is 60 decibels, meaning it would take multiple hens producing noise at the exact same time to produce more noise than a single dog.
  2. Myth: They smell and create too much waste. Fact: A forty pound dog generates more solid waste then ten chickens. To be more specific, one 40 pound dogs generates about .75 pounds of waste every day. Ten chickens generate about two-thirds (.66 pounds) daily waste.
  3. Myth: Chickens Attract Predators, Pests & Rodents. Fact: Predators and rodents are already living in urban areas. Wild bird feeders, pet food, gardens, fish ponds, bird baths, trash waiting to be collected all attract raccoons, foxes, rodents and flies. Modern micro-flock coops, such as chicken tractors arks, and other pens are ways of keeping, and managing, family flocks that eliminate concerns about predators, rodents and other pests. In fact, chickens are part of the solution to pesky problems. Chickens are voracious carnivores and will seek and eat just about anything that moves including ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, stink bugs, slugs, and even mice, baby rats and small snakes.
  4. Myth: Property Values Will Decrease. Fact: There is not one single documented case that we know of about a next door family flock that has decreased the value of real estate. On the contrary, local foods and living green is so fashionable, that some Realtors and home sellers are offering a free chicken coop with every sale.

Quite simply, chickens have been animal companions of humans for thousands of years. When allowed to range in the yard, they are very entertaining and they provide more benefits to us than cats or dogs. They provide outstanding pest control, eating the aforementioned ticks, slugs, mosquitoes and many other insects. And they produce eggs that are much more nutritious than those you can buy at the supermarket. Keeping backyard chickens is more than just a trend - they are beneficial to the families and communities that allow them.

Backyard chickens are beneficial to the community that they live in because they:

  • Offer fresh, locally sourced eggs(and can be organic and non-GMO).
  • Can help to provide food security for lower-income families.
  • Produce healthier eggs compared to store-bought eggs.
  • Provide gardeners with high-quality fertilizer.
  • Help control flies and other pests. 
  • Dispose of weeds and kitchen scraps that would otherwise go to the landfill. 
  • Are seen as therapeutic for children on the autism spectrum by getting the kids involved in feeding and caring for the chickens, thereby promoting independent living skills.
  • Provide a great way for kids to learn about nature, agriculture and the responsibility of caring for animals. It’s also a fantastic way for both kids and adults to gain respect for these intelligent creatures that produce food for us.

Backyard chickens will generally get far more humane care than those raised in filthy, crowded “factory farms.” Industrial production is creating numerous problems, including pollution from manure, antibiotic resistance and higher risk of a more dangerous strain of bird flu. Keeping a few chickens at home is one way we can each do our part to address these problems. Limit their numbers, and require clean, humane care — sure. But there is no legitimate reason for any city to prohibit keeping a few chickens, any more than there is reason to ban the keeping of dogs or cats.

In March of 2015, the city of Deltona began a year-long trial period allowing backyard chickens. On March 7, 2016, the ordinance allowing backyard chickens in Deltona became permanent. The specifics on this ordinance can be seen in Article VIII of the city of Deltona's code of ordinances.

What we are asking is for a change in the ordinances against owning backyard chickens in all of Orange County, and adopting a new ordinance that allows citizens in residential zoned areas to own a small backyard flock.

Here is the city of Deltona's Article VIII from the municipal code; just one of many acceptable ordinance codes in Florida which Orange County could use to make adopting new backyard chicken laws and ordinances a success:

Sec. 14-281. - Chicken permit.
A chicken permit shall be required for chickens to be kept, harbored, raised, or maintained in chicken coops as laying hens for eggs as accessory to a residential single-family structure, ("residence"), but only subject to the following:
(1) No more than five chickens may be kept on a lot, with roosters prohibited.

(2) The residence shall be owner-occupied.

(3) The chicken permit applicant must sign a statement acknowledging that the chicken permit may be revoked for any violation of this article, and may be revoked if this article is amended in the future, and the city will not be held responsible or liable for any losses to the applicant if such chicken permit is revoked.

(4) Ducks, geese, turkeys, peafowl, or any other poultry or fowl are not allowed under the provisions of this section of the code.

(5) Chickens and associated activities shall be kept for personal use only. Selling chickens, eggs, or chicken manure, or the breeding of chickens is prohibited.

(6) The coop and enclosure must be screened from the neighbor's view, using an opaque fence.

(7) The coop and enclosure must be located in the rear yard, as defined by the city's Code of Ordinances. No coop or enclosure shall be allowed in any front or side yard.

(8) The coop or enclosure must comply with standard setbacks.

(9) The coop and enclosure shall provide a minimum of four square feet per chicken to permit free movement of the chickens. The coop and enclosure may not be taller than five and one-half feet, measured from the natural grade, must be at least six inches lower than the fence to screen them, and must be easily accessible for cleaning and maintenance. A building permit is required under the Florida Building Code if the coop exceeds 100 square feet. The coop shall not exceed a maximum of 200 square feet.

(10) The coop and enclosure shall be covered and ventilated, and a fence enclosure/run is required. The coop and enclosure must be completely secured from predators, including all openings, ventilation holes, doors and gates (fencing or roofing is required over the enclosure in addition to the coop, in order to protect the chickens from predators).

(11) All stored feed must be kept in a rodent- and predator-proof container.

(12) Chickens shall be kept within a coop and enclosure from dusk until dawn. No person shall release or set any chicken free from such coop and enclosure unless under the supervision of a person, and no person shall slaughter a chicken .

(13) coops and enclosures shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition at all times. Chickens shall not be permitted to create a nuisance consisting of odor, noise or pests, or contribute to any other nuisance condition.
Ord. No. 10-2016, § 1, 3-7-2016)

Editor's note— Ordinance No. 10-2016 adopted on March 7, 2016, in effect repealed former § 14-281, which pertained to a trial period for owning chickens and derived from Ord. No. 02-2015, adopted March 16, 2015. Ordinance No. 10-2016 also enacted a new § 14-281 as set out herein.

Sec. 14-282. - Procedures for the granting of chicken permits.
The building and enforcement services director, under the direction of the city manager, is authorized and directed to administer the chicken permit process as follows:

(1) A chicken permit will be issued once an applicant has completed an application, met all conditions, and staff concurs with the issuance of a chicken permit.

(2) There will be a $25.00 fee for the chicken permit and initial inspection.

(3) Once a chicken permit has been issued for a chicken that is maintained under this section, the location will be subject to an annual inspection to ensure that the area is being maintained in a manner that is safe and sanitary for the animal and does not burden the neighbors of the residence.

(4) If any condition of the chicken permit has been violated, the city may revoke the chicken permit immediately if the violation has not been remedied after seven days' notice, or if it is a repeat violation. The city is responsible for the determination of compliance with the requirements of this article. In matters of interpretation, the building and enforcement services director has the authority to determine compliance with the Code of Ordinances.

(5) A person aggrieved by a decision of the building and enforcement services director in the issuance, denial or revocation of a chicken permit may appeal to the city manager. A person aggrieved by a decision of the city manager may appeal to the city commission.

(6) Persons granted a chicken permit will be encouraged to attend an appropriate training session to learn safe chickenand egg practices.
(Ord. No. 02-2015, § 1, 3-16-2015; Ord. No. 10-2016, § 1, 3-7-2016)

Sec. 14-283. - Animals killing chickens.
No dog or cat that kills a chicken will, for that reason alone, be considered a dangerous or aggressive animal.
(Ord. No. 02-2015, § 1, 3-16-2015; Ord. No. 10-2016, § 1, 3-7-2016)

Sec. 14-284. - Not required for a zoning district.
A chicken permit is not required for the keeping of chickens in the A (agricultural) zoning district.
(Ord. No. 02-2015, § 1, 3-16-2015; Ord. No. 10-2016, § 1, 3-7-2016)

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
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